Last updated: February 28, 2024

1968 Chevy Belair (owned 1981)
My first car ownership experience


As my first automotive purchase, in early May of 1981 (the summer between 2nd and 3rd year university), this was basically where my adult automotive hobby all started. I can't say I was any too excited about this particular car, a 1968 Chevy Belair with a 307cid V8 engine and a 2-speed powerglide transmission, other than by the fact that it was reliable transportation for me to get to and from my summer job at BC Tel in Burnaby.

The engine may have been rebuilt by the prior owner as part of his job teaching 'shop' to high school students, but the rest of the car was a mess. The engine still needed the rockers to be properly adjusted (they were sticking and the lifter gaps were off), the carb was badly out of tune, it needed new plugs, a clean-up of the distributor, a new muffler system, etc. The brake pads needed replacing, the tires were worn out, and the interior was worn out as well. Finally, the body was rusted out in spots and the trunk was full of water because of the leak around the rear window.

My dad and I got the engine sorted out the first week. Then we lifted out the rear window, repaired the rust and re-installed and sealed the window. For the rest of the summer I also worked on bondo patches and painting the rest of the rusted body. I cut out some shag carpet for the interior and trunk and put seat covers over the torn fabric, and stuck in a cheap stereo system. I drove it to Sears in Burnaby for a new exhaust system and also got some second hand tires for it. I also installed spring lifters to restore the original ride height to the car.

I drove this car all the way to Penticton in August of that summer and it was otherwise quite fun to load up with friends and cruise around town in. My total investment was close to $1000 and that is what I ended up selling it for before heading back to school that fall. It actually looked pretty decent by the end of the summer when the bondo work and painting was completed. It was my first taste of American 'iron'.


Here is a photo of a really clean 2 door 1968 Chevy Belair for comparison purposes:




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